Sunday, December 15, 2013

Defensive Score Sheet - Arizona at Michigan

Arizona celebrates one of 11 forced turnovers against Michigan. (AP)

It seems pretty obvious that as the NCAA Tournament rolls around Arizona will likely be a popular Final Four pick and possibly the Vegas favorite to cut down the nets. With a come-from-behind win against a good Michigan team (how good we'll find out over the next few months) away from home it seems this might finally be the Sean Miller Arizona squad that can actually make noise in the NCAAs. (Note: Yes, Arizona did make the Elite Eight as a No. 5 seed in 2011, losing to eventual National Champion UConn but I didn't consider that the type of great Arizona team Miller was seemingly putting together with his superb recruiting).

Arizona is, by far, the best team out west and seems a lock for, at-worst, a No. 2 seed in the NCAAs. The longer the Wildcats stay unbeaten, of course, the more a No. 1 seed seems very likely. Saturday's win lifted Arizona to 11-0 with non-home wins coming against San Diego State, Duke and now Michigan. That's a very solid road/neutral resume and we're only in mid-December.

Most impressive is Michigan seemed to be at full strength and the crowd was absolutely rocking. It helped the Wolverines take a 35-26 lead into halftime and carried over as a dunk opened the second-half scoring and gave Michigan an 11-point lead. That's where Arizona began chipping away, the way teams with legitimate title hopes tend to do on the road. When the dust settled it was Arizona 72, Michigan 70.